Boundaries are a part of our daily lives. From traffic signals to numbered vacation days, they are needed tools. But for children, boundaries are more than a useful tool, they serve as foundations by which our little ones find safety, security and confidence. Without clearly set and respected boundaries, our children are set adrift. As those who serve children, defining and respecting boundaries is a must. We owe it to our kiddos to maintain an environment in which they can thrive. The craziness of children’s ministry can make boundary lines easy to blur, so let’s clearly define 10 and why each is so important.

Boundaries are a part of life, but the craziness of children’s ministry can blur the lines, so let’s define them... Click To Tweet
  1. Words: The Bible teaches that our words have incredible impact. And as spiritual leaders, the words we use must always be respectful, honest, and humble. Sarcasm, innuendo, and name-calling have no place in a leader’s vocabulary. When a leader belittles or embarrasses a child with their words, a line has been crossed.

 

  1. Touch: Just as we are to honor children with our words, we are also to honor them with our touch. A volunteer must never use physical force to discipline a child! Nor should they use touch in a way that can be misconstrued. A father would be rightly concerned if he walked in to see his daughter sitting in the lap of an unknown helper. A volunteer should always be mindful of how their actions may be perceived by others.

 

  1. Discipline: Volunteers are not the primary disciplinarians of children, that responsibility lies with their parents. Discipline is a delicate boundary, but it is one that must be respected. Now we all know that issues of bad behavior will come up during service, so what to do? Time-outs or separation from the larger group are good strategies. The rule of thumb is one minute of time-out for every year of the child’s age.

 

  1. Authority: A volunteer’s role is to be the child’s leader, not buddy. Children need authority figures in their life. They need adults to set and enforce standards. In doing this, we often lose the “cool” volunteer status. But there is nothing cool about 7 kids hanging on a leader like a jungle gym. Volunteers must accept the responsibility and respect the authority that comes with leadership.

 

  1. Maturity: Your volunteers live busy lives. They often work long weeks only to come in on the weekend and serve a rowdy bunch of wild kids. Tempers can get short and we can easily forget that much of what is frustrating us is just kids being kids. There is never an excuse for a volunteer to lose self-control and snap at a child. That is a line we will always regret crossing. Remember that we are the adults and they are the children.

 

  1. Physical Safety: Roughhousing is inevitable, but when left unchecked, it provides many opportunities for preventable accidents to occur. A good way to think about safety is in terms of respect. Children are to respect the space they are in, the people they are around and themselves. Children often lack the foresight to understand the full consequences of their actions. This is why volunteers must draw clear boundary lines to ensure our children’s safety.

 

  1. Playing Favorites: No one likes to be the odd person out. For kids, church should be a safe place. A place where they are accepted, loved and welcomed. When volunteers pick favorites and treat some children different than others, it creates an unhealthy environment of competition. We want our children to see that love is not something they earn from us, but something we give freely to all.

 

  1. Conflict: Even the best of volunteers will have times where they don’t see eye to eye. But adult conflicts should never entangle our kids. Kids love all their volunteers and to see one volunteer cut down another is deeply confusing and hurtful to them. If there is an issue with another volunteer, resolution needs to happen in private. This is a matter of respect for both adults and children.

 

  1. Attitude: Attitude is contagious. Children will naturally take on attitude they see modeled by their leaders. They will use the words we use, adopt the tone in our voices, and pick up on any critical remarks we make. If we choose to model a good attitude, they will find none of these examples to follow. We owe it to our kids to bring our very best attitude to church.

 

  1. Affection: We serve in children’s ministry because we love children! But it is important that we be mindful of how we demonstrate affection as volunteers. This can be tricky, because kids love to show affection with reckless abandon. They want to hug, kiss, and roll around with those they love. Be sure and discuss with your volunteers what is and is not acceptable when showing affection to your kids. Make those lines clear in advance, it will save you a headache later.

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